Women's Relay Gold to Germany; Fourth Win This Season

Women's Relay Gold to Germany; Fourth Win This Season

Germany with Vanessa Hinz, Maren Hammerschmidt, Franziska Hildebrand and Laura Dahlmeier  won the women's relay Gold medal today with nine spares in 1:11:16.6. This was Germany's fourth relay win of the season. Ukraine with Iryna Varvynets, Yuliia Dzhima, Anastasiya Merkushyna and Olena Pidhrushna won the Silver medal, with four spare rounds, 6.4 seconds back.. France with Anais Chevalier, Celia Aymonier, Justine Braisaz and Marie Dorin Habert took  the Bronze medal, with seven spares, 8.1 seconds back.

Czech Republic finished fourth, with seven spares, 14 seconds back. Fifth went to Italy, with six spares, 36.5 seconds back while Sweden was sixth, with seven spares, 1:20.4 back.

Women's Relay Gold to Germany; Fourth Win This Season

Germany Takes Control

Heavy snowfall and gusting winds greeted the twenty-three teams today; much different conditions than any other day of these Championships. The first loop saw domination of Germany, France and Italy out front, but two spares for Hinz in standing pushed back Germany into third.

During the second leg, the standing stage made the German fans nervous; as Hammerschmidt missed three targets, but finally cleaned with her spare rounds.  She commented, “I was a bit nervous,,the my muscles were dead in my legs, so I am satisfied on having hit all five.”

She tagged Hildebrand in second, who then went 10-for-10, putting her in control, with a 20-second lead after standing. She later admitted that today’s conditions were more to her liking.  “I was happy it was not so sunny. I was happy to shoot two times clean to give more advantage to Laura.”

Merkushyna matched Hildebrand in standing and left the shooting range 20 seconds back, but she pulled back 10.3 seconds with  her strong skiing ski to tag Pidhrushna just 9.7 seconds back.

Women's Relay Gold to Germany; Fourth Win This Season

5 Teams: 12 seconds

Russia had been in the top five but fell out of contention after anchor Tatiana Akimova picked up a prone penalty.

The pressure in the final standing stage kicked in  when Dahlmeier needed two spares to close the final five targets. She remained in the lead, but Gabriela Koukalová was just 5.4 seconds back, with Dorin Habert and Wierer also chasing. Leaving the shooting range five teams were within 12 seconds, making the last loop a thrilling battle.

Women's Relay Gold to Germany; Fourth Win This Season

Pidhrushna's Last Loop

Koukalová left in the Silver medal position, but Pidhrushna found the power to overtake her and cross the finish line in second.Pidhrushna commented on the last loop, “I was remembering last year on the last loop. Last year each loop I had a similar battle. Thanks to my skis I was able to pass girls on the last loop and I realized I had to jump for a medal.”

Dorin Habert also passed Koukalová and challenged for Silver, but finished in third. The French star was still pleased with her Bronze, “I am very happy about this medal, to be on the podium one time with the team it was great. I knew Olena is a great finisher, Gabi is just crazy, on top this season.”

Women's Relay Gold to Germany; Fourth Win This Season

Silver and Speechless

Dzhyma was disappointed with her day. “To be honest, I did everything I could, but I had higher expectations for myself.”

Merkushyna, with her first senior WCH medal was speechless. “It was really hard; the weather was hard. I cannot believe, it is my first WCHs and my first medal. Of course I believe in my team, but this is so great!”